Valkyrien Lodge celebrates 110 years
Marking the event, goldsmith Jørgen Sando delivers presentation on bunad silver
Norwegian American Weekly
On October 7, dozens of Daughters of Norway members from all over the state donned their bunads and gathered in Seattle’s Norse Home to celebrate 110 years since the founding of Valkyrien Lodge—the very first Daughters of Norway lodge.
To get the celebration started, Lodge President Sissel Tangen welcomed the guests and spoke about the history of the lodge, pointing out that Valkyrien Lodge was formed in 1905, the same year that Norway gained its independence. “This is maybe not a coincidence!” she declared with a grin.
Tangen’s welcoming words were followed by the singing of both national anthems and speeches by Honorary Consul Kim Nesselquist and Grand Lodge Secretary Marcia Comer.
Fourth-generation goldsmith Jørgen Sando then shared his vast knowledge of the sølje in his presentation titled “Bunad jewelry: The forgotten language.”
Sando started off by speaking about his home of Rjukan and his family’s history in the goldsmithing industry, which extends back to his great-grandfather. In fact, he shared that the buttons on his bunad were made by himself, his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, all using the same tools.
The majority of Sando’s presentation covered the symbolism, or the “forgotten language,” behind the designs. He pointed out that the jewelry’s symmetry can either be divided by three, to represent the Trinity, or four, to symbolize the four corners of the world. Either way, the symmetry serves as a symbol for creation and thankfulness.
Each type of sølje contains its own message. For example, the bolesølje symbolizes Jesus (the middle circle), the Apostles (the twelve outer ones), and the Holy Spirit (the edge); the slangesølje is meant to represent Midgardsormen from Norse Mythology; and the skålsølje, the sølje with the dishes used throughout most of Norway, is a symbol for virginity. While the bull-horn shape of the hornringer was initially used only as a men’s sølje to symbolize strength, features such as pendants and color have been added to make it a women’s sølje as well. Sando’s favorite is the hjertesølje, which is shaped like a heart with a crown at the top, represents the Virgin Mary, and acts as a symbol of love.
While there are many types of bunad silver, not every sølje matches every bunad, according to Sando. Therefore, he has created the website www.sando.no to help customers select and purchase appropriate bunad silver according to their type of bunad. Once customers select their bunad, only the correct silver will be listed. With Norwegian Americans in mind, the site is available in English and offers shipping to the U.S. The shipping is expensive though, so Sando recommends making a combined order with friends or family.
At the same time, Sando encourages people who have inherited bunad jewelry to wear it proudly regardless of whether it matches their bunad. “It tells your story,” he said.
At the end of the presentation, Tangen thanked him for his discussion and gave him a book about Seattle on behalf of Valkyrien Lodge. Sando then presented Tangen with a beautiful “Dale Jewelry” necklace, which is based on the design of the ironwork on a stave church door.
Sando was then kept quite busy with questions from grateful members about their own bunad silver; he was able to help them learn more about it, such as where it came from, who made it, and when.
To end the anniversary celebration, everyone delighted in a kaffebord with lefse, krumkake, and a beautiful kransekake as Christmas decorations, rosemaled items, and more were raffled off in support of the lodge. Karin Scovill, the longest member of Valkyrien Lodge who joined in 1942 and has served as President and Historian of the Grand Lodge, also spoke about the formalities of the “old days” of the lodge, which included multiple passwords and penalties for tardiness. Everyone rejoiced in the fact that the lodge is much more welcoming these days!
The evening was an incredible success and a fitting tribute to 110 years of the lodge. Gratulerer med dagen, Valkyrien Lodge!
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.